Monday, August 10, 2009

who am i?

There are many mes. (I refuse to use an apostrophe for a word that is neither possessive nor a contraction, but the plural of "me" does look very strange.) I don't mean in a clinical, multiple personality disorder sort of way. Rather, I wear different faces/hats/pants in different aspects of my life. Maybe it's more accurate to say there are multiple versions of me (also doesn't look so weird). They are more alike than different, but they are distinct. They sometimes overlap, they occasionally collide, and I find myself struggling to decide how separate I want them to be.

Most people have some separation of church and state, don't they? Separation between who they are at work/school/church/bingo and who they are at home/the bar/online/bowling, or where ever they feel at ease. For some these lines are bright and clear. For others they might be blurry, even nonexistent. I do have lines. They fade in and out, sometimes to my detriment, but they're there. Here are a few of the mes (there's that word again) I know.

  1. Work me: Veneer of professionalism. Moderated sarcasm and snarkyness. Confident. Capable. Reduced use of profanity. Somewhat detached. In the course of my working life, more of my true self has come out, but work me is still several steps removed from who I think I really am.
  2. Real life me: Who I am with people I know well. More relaxed. Funnier (I think). Laugh easily. Cry sometimes. Say fuck a lot. Give hugs. A bit self conscious. Avoid confrontation. Keep things light. 
  3. Blog me: Not so different from real life me. A bit more thoughtful. Certainly better edited (I think!). Brave enough to say things I might not say elsewhere. Wise enough to hold back some I might regret. I explore things I rarely talk about, and no one gets to interrupt me. I crave attention comments. I like to know you're there, and what you think.
  4. Twitter me: Almost no filter. Self-assured (mostly). Flirty. Hilariously funny (I'm certain). Brave in my relative anonymity, yet supportive and (mostly) friendly. As long as you can read sarcasm.  

Identity is funny. Mercurial, you might say. No one is who they were yesterday, yet we remain who we are (witness protection and sex changes notwithstanding). Identity and blogging have an interesting relationship. Some bloggers create a persona completely separate from who they are in life. A nom de plume. Their blog world is completely separate from their real world. Friends and family may not know they blog. Blog readers don't know their real name or their families names. Mr. Lady and BHJ are in this camp. Mr. Lady recently flirted with taking down the wall and revealing her real name on her blog. BHJ, by contrast, shut down his much loved (by me, anyway) blog and started a new one after being discovered by some folks from life he did NOT want knowing about his blogself. I respect this path. Sometimes I envy it. They can write anything they want, yet all the while flirt with potentially damaging exposure. It's a bit like working for the CIA. Ok, only a little, but still.

Others take the opposite approach. Heather's last name is in the title of her blog. Dooce, the most popular "mommy blogger" there is(?), shares her name, her city, photos of herself. I presume these people started their blogs to share their lives with friends and family. It made no sense to hide who they were. The fact they've become widely read and followed was not part of any plan, it just happened. In any case, they chose the path of openness.  

I'm somewhere between. I use our real first names, but not our last name. I talk about where we live. There are photos of us on the blog. My parents read and comment regularly. Many friends know I blog. I link to my blog on Facebook. I don't hide it. 

You might think Mr. Lady and BHJ's recent musings on this topic inspired this post, and perhaps they did. But the real trigger? Business cards. Yes, business cards. You see, I'm faced with another question of how separate these worlds should be. I'm looking for new employment. Do I put my blog on the card I'll use to look for a job?  In exploring what I might want to do, writing comes up as something I enjoy and would like to do more. This blog is an example of my writing. For now, it is the best, certainly the most readily available example of my writing. Yet I hesitate to reveal it to prospective employers, at least initially. I blog about my kids, but also drugs and kids toys that look like vibrators. I say fuck a lot. The name of the blog is badass dad. How seriously can anyone take THAT? 

I've already faced some consequences of the various versions of me intersecting. A comment I made on Facebook resulted in a talking to from my boss about setting a professional example as a manager. An email I got from a friend, misdirected to a colleague I didn't know, which just happened to mention ass fucking, also got me in some trouble at work. And my comment on Twitter about how in California we can buy booze anywhere and have all the anal sex we want raised some eyebrows when a coworker discovered it. (No it seems like I'm obsessed with anal sex. Another blog post for the resume!)

I don't like having to hide. But again, perhaps this is what everyone does, to a degree. This blog, Twitter, and Facebook have created a scenario where things that would traditionally have been semi-private are now quite public, and can have real consequences. This may have worked out well for Dooce. Not sure I want to bank on the same happening for me.

When I was an adolescent searching for meaning in the universe, I came upon Richard Bach's Illusions. New agey, yes, but exactly what I as a curious, thoughtful, lovesick, non-religious youth needed. There are many things about that book I still believe and work to hold in mind. One in particular I do my best to live by:

"Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world. Even if what is published is not true." 

I think it means own who you are and what you do. Be secure in your self-knowledge, and unconcerned with the opinions of others. 

But how do you do that in daily life? How does that stand up to the need for a paycheck? I'd love to work for someone who knows and embraces all I am. But I'd also like to pay my mortgage and feed my family. Can these things be one and the same?

The answer I came to was no, for now. No blog address on the cards. Name, phone, email. There's plenty of room to write on the card. If it makes sense, I can always scratch it in.

How about you? Are you friends with your mom on Facebook? Does your boss know you blog? Are your yous fully integrated, or are there streams you just don't cross?



  1. wow very interesting..

    Yes I'm friends with my mom on FB, on myspace, and hi5 but only because I have to and I feel she would get her feelings hurt if I didnt add her. The good thing is that my family doesnt know about twitter, or if they do know about it, they havent joined yet, THANK GOD, by the way.

    I find that my personality on myspace and facebook is different from my twitter one. On twitter, its just I tweet whatever the hell I want and whenever the fuck I want. No restrictions. No hiding.

    Twitter and blog me is the same person. or should I say me. except that in my blog I dont cuss as much as I do in Twitter, because I know that some of my family reads my blog. Why? No fuckin idea.

  2. 1. badass dad as a title is not a problem. I got my first interview because I had "Every office needs a rockstar" on the top of my resume.
    2. I keep my pages public but do not actively link my personal sites to my work sites.
    3. I readily tell people about (case in point) but that's because I try to keep that page fairly clean and professional. It's mostly about motorcycles and music.
    4. I do not readily share my family blog with others, even though it's public.

    You've made the right choice by not including your blog. It gives you more professional flexibility. good luck in the hunt.

  3. Very interesting post, Mr Badass. And wonderfully written to boot.

    I fall into the "assumed name" category of blogs - although I've toyed with the idea of

    This was because a) my real name is one of the most google-able names on the planet and b) I'm writing about my children and other people's children.

    However, just because I'm writing under The NDM cloak of disguise, I don't feel this gives me license to write whatever the hell I like about other people.

    I try to only write those things I would be comfortable talking about face-to-face with the people involved. And more often than not, I check with people before using their material, although I have a core group of friends who pretty much entrust me with their lives (they obviously don't read the blog very often).

    Of course I've mis-stepped along that rocky blog path - upset a couple of people along the way - will probably upset a few more. Alas, the nature of blogging, of writing, of being...

    The business card thing is an interesting dilemma. I think you made the right decision - was going to write "the write decision" but then probably would have hated myself for being such a stupid punster for the rest of the day, even if I am a largely anonymous stupid punster.

    The end, by me.

  4. I also like it how I managed to publish the above without reading it.

    I don't even know *what* I like to toy with the idea of.

    Possibly naked jelly-wrestling (as my blog can attest).

  5. The various versions of me are not fully integrated, and I like it that way. I have one calling card for my blog (also Twitter) and a separate one for my everyday me. I would not consider putting my blog URL on a card to give a prospective employer unless it was directly related to the "me" online (which is highly unlikely).

    My boss does not know I blog, but then she has made no effort to get to know me, so that's no real surprise.

    My mom isn't on Facebook, nor is any of the rest of my small family, so I don't have to deal with that. But very few of my friends on FB are those outside my blog & Twitter friends.

    There are streams that I simply do not allow to cross, and while it's important to me, I recognize that it's not important to everyone. I'm a lot more "me" on Twitter than anywhere else online.

  6. It's funny, I was just noticing how many bloggers seem to use their real IDs these days, and feeling a little weird that I'm still anonymous. But, like you, I've decided the crossover between blogging and work would be even more weird, and not in a good way. I keep them separate and I probably will forever. Twitter and my blog are where I can be honest, earnest, irreverent, whatever, but still be connected to people with similar experiences and interests (not naturally occurring to a huge degree in my physical environment). Facebook, LinkedIn, family, and work all stay in my "real life" category.

    Anyway, you're right: it's not about whether or not you're being honest, it's about compartmentalizing your honesty so it serves you best. If assfucking on your blog is going to deprive you of income, it's a no-brainer. An unfortunate one, but still.

  7. There are streams that don't cross, for sure.
    I've been debating for a LONG time whether to let more RL friends join me on twitter with this handle, and I still just don't know.
    The semi-anonymity I have there is pretty fun.
    But sometimes I want to be more connected, to more people, and have more late-night tweeps, which would be maybe-easy if I added people from more sections of my life. Hrmph.

  8. This is a REALLY great post. I wish I had some greatly written response, bu alas it is early in the morn. But I couldn't not let you know that this is pretty darn brilliant.

    I say that you keep your blog to yourself, your friends, your famlily and keep work out of it unless that's the type of work you go into.

    It's just a weird line these days and everybody's different about blogs, etc.

    But you do what feels right to you.

  9. If you know about my blog, then it's pretty easy to figure out who I am 'in real life.' My job knows about my blog (I write for my work blog, so). My family knows about my blog, some of my siblings read it (they're all my facebook friends after all). My mom specifically DOESN'T read my blog because she says that it was just annoy her, and she's very wise. The only veil of anonymity I maintain is that if I'm looking for a job, you can't possibly get to my blog from my resume. Beyond that, I don't really care.

  10. If you google my name, married or maiden, you won't find my blog. You wont find my twitter. You wont find my flickr. The only thing that will come up is Facebook. On Facebook, you will find my flickr but not twitter or my blog. Flickr connects me to nothing actually. The reason for this is that I don't need my ex finding me or any part of my online life. If he found me on Facebook, he'd have to request to be my friend before he saw anything. I have co-workers on facebook but like I said, no blog or twitter connection there. My parents and some co-workers know I blog and twitter but they haven't asked for the URL and I haven't given it up either. I'm fine with that. I enjoy my small degree of being anon because I CAN say what I want.

    I'd say that unless you want to make money off this here blog, or use it as writing example, I'd leave it off your professional resumes or business cards. But that's just me. :)

  11. Yeah...there are just a FEW who know both my RL who know about my blog/twitter.

    I definitely prefer there be a wall there, because even though I am much more open online, I am aware there are things that I wouldn't say to somebody's face that I may put on an open letter on my blog.

    I think it's cool that some people can put it all out there, I just know I couldn't. Hey. To each his own, I guess.

    (I was just writing a post about facebook & my real life...what a coincidence)

  12. I don't often use my last name online, but I haven't gone out of my way to keep it secret. I don't use my husband's and kids' names in my blog or anywhere else I write online, but I -- like you -- link to my blog on Facebook where I do use their real names.

    I have on occasion fantasized about starting up a new completely anonymous blog.

    Ah, yes, business cards. I should get on that myself one of these days...

  13. My real life friends and family know about my blog and I use our real first names, although I don't put my last name out there. It's not really a secret, but my husband prefers to keep that little bit of anonymity. I don't work, though, so I don't have to balance that aspect of my life.

  14. such a good post! very thought-provoking... i put it alllllll out there. well, in terms of me and my son. i have to censor some stuff with my husband because of his work. but the way i see it, it's my blog... so i'll write about what i want to write about and if i happen to be writing about someone else or a topic that concerns someone else, i do ask their permission. i'm not a total dickface about it. but yeah, i put myself out there, wear my heart on my sleeve... love me or leave me. :)

  15. This is a great post. Particularly because I've been wanting to blog for a long time. To get things out and to connect with people who have blogs that I follow and then some, but I've been afraid. Afraid someone I know (parents/boss/etc - basically people I may vent about) will google and find it and then I'll have to deal with that.

    I've worked in a few different places. The last job I had people were "real", open , down to earth honest and fun. They were professional but respected individuality. No judgy face. Where I work now, everyone puts up a front. I mean even hiding shit as rediculous as the fact that they smoke cigarettes. It's horrible.

    I say you made a good choice by keeping it quiet while job searching.

  16. I allow Facebook people to know me in Real Life but as for my blog only those who I can talk to about the vibrators and stabbiness towards his exwife are allowed in that world


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